The factory was one of several paper fabrication mills established during the late nineteenth century. The well-preserved building is a fine illustration of the industrial construction methods commonly employed in the period.

The American Paper Goods Company was founded in 1893 by the Ajax Envelope Company of New York City and the Howard Manufacturing Company in Jersey City. The newly formed company bought up the water rights to this site along the Mattabessett River that was formerly used by grist, saw, and cement mills. It constructed the present dam and the first section of the factory in 1893. Three additional sections were added through 1914.

American Paper Goods specialized in the production of envelopes and waxed paper bags and cups. At its height, it employed 350 workers, some of whom lived in company housing near the factory. The success of the company is demonstrated by its ability to re-invest profits in system upgrades and an extensive building program for much of its history. By World War I, a coal-fired steam heat system was piped into the factory and a hydroelectric power system was installed, which by 1931 supplied 75 percent of the power to the production floors. The remnants of the hydroelectric generator structure can still be seen along the river.

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American Paper Goods remained in business here until 1954, when the plant was purchased by Continental Can. The Sherwood Tool Company purchased the property in 1959. The property continued to be used primarily for the manufacturing of paper cups and machine tools for the paper industry until 2004. Millions of the iconic “We Are Happy to Serve You” paper cups, used in diners all over the world, were produced in the building. Companies operating out of the building included the Ogle Specialty Company, the Sweetheart Cup Company, and the Solo Cup Company.

In its renovation of the factory, CIL has taken great care to preserve and highlight the building’s historic architectural elements. Heavy beams composed of three timbers are visible throughout, as are the steel plates and cast iron brackets that serve as anchors. The high ceilings reveal the double plank floors that are found throughout the building. All of the renovations are being completed in accordance with the requirements of the State of Connecticut Office of Historic Preservation and Museum Division.